How to fix dough that won’t rise

Monday, May 11, 2020

How to Fix Dough That Won’t Rise

You have it all planned: the dinner, the wine, that fresh-baked loaf of bread, along with those amazing barbecue ribs, straight from the chicken factory. Everything is coming together when you discover that your bread dough just isn’t rising. This is a common problem for many home bakers: you go to a lot of effort to make a nice shaped loaf, but your yeast appears to have gone on vacation. Fortunately, it’s a problem that’s relatively easy to diagnose and solve. Keep reading for instructions on how to get your yeast partying again.

[ Edit ] Steps

[ Edit ] Repairing The Dough

  1. Turn up the temperature. Yeast loves nothing better than a warm, moist climate to live its yeasty life to the fullest. [1] If you want your dough to rise, you need to give the yeast what it wants.

How to fix dough that won't rise

  • Fill a baking pan with boiling water, and set it on the lowest rack in your oven. Place the container of dough on the middle rack, and close the oven door and allow the dough to rise.
  • Alternately, you can boil a cup of water in the microwave, then place the container of dough in the microwave with the water, and close the door. (Don’t microwave the dough!)
  • Some people turn on the oven, and place the dough on top of the stove, covered with a damp towel. The oven keeps the surface of the stove warm, and the damp towel provides the moisture.
  • Add more yeast. If warm and moist isn’t activating the yeast (you’ll know in less than an hour), you can try adding more yeast. [2]

    How to fix dough that won't rise

    • Open a new package of yeast, and mix teaspoon of yeast with 1 cup (240ml) of warm water (at about 110°F/43°C) and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Let this mixture proof for about 10 minutes, until it gets 1/2- to 1-inch of foam. If this fails, you will need to get fresh yeast and try again.
    • While proofing this yeast mixture, gently warm the flat dough to about 100°F (38°C) by placing the bowl in a warm place.
  • Blend in the starter. Adding more flour as necessary: a ratio of 60% flour to 40% liquid is usually a good ratio for bread doughs so add sufficient flour needed to balance. Knead the active yeast mixture into the dough, then let it rise in a warm, moist place.

    How to fix dough that won't rise

    • This can also be an indicator to see if your yeast is not active. This method makes the yeast very active so when it is added to the dough, it should rise perfectly. If your dough still fails to rise, it will indicate the yeast is not at fault: there is another problem.
    • You can also do this at the beginning of the recipe next time you make a different yeast dough.
  • Knead in more flour. Check whether the dough is sticky to the touch. If so, this is probably under-kneaded dough. Knead in additional flour until smooth and silky to the touch and dough no longer sticks to your hand. Let rest and rise in warm wet environment. Repeat if needed. You may need to let dough rest overnight before shaping and baking.

    Knead the dough properly. There’s an art to kneading. Too little, and you may not distribute the yeast through the dough. The dough will then be too weak to be able to rise. Too much kneading may make the dough so tough that it cannot expand. The dough should feel smooth and elastic, not tight like a rubber ball, or soft like biscuit dough.

    [ Edit ] Troubleshooting Dough Problems

    1. Find the problem. Consider several of the following points to do some preliminary diagnosis. It may be that a simple correction to the environment can fix the problem with no further effort.

    How to fix dough that won't rise

    • Check the dough and yeast type. Some sourdough cultures are very slow rising and may need several hours to rise. A
    • Make sure the yeast is still within its expiration date.Powdered yeast in packets last a long time, as does storing jars of dry yeast in the freezer. However, both fresh and dried yeast have a lifespan after which they will function weakly, or not at all. [3]
  • Check the environment. The ideal temperature is approx 100°F (38°C) and high humidity. Move too far out of that range, and your yeast will not be happy.

    How to fix dough that won't rise

    How to fix dough that won't rise

    • This can also happen if you have a dough that has too high a ratio of water to flour.
    • Some flours contain antifungal ingredients to prolong shelf life. As yeast is a proud member of the Fungi kingdom, this will most definitely inhibit growth.
    • Organic, additive-free unbleached white bread flour works best for a good loaf of white bread.
    • Heavier flours such as whole wheat, rye and other types of whole-grain flour will result in a heavy loaf that does not rise as much as fine white bread flour. [5]
  • Let the dough rest. Do not disturb the dough while it is rising, especially if it is a particularly wet dough.

    Use the proper container. The pan, banneton, or tray you use will make a difference. Too large, and the dough has nothing to push against when rising, so won’t rise upwards. Instead, it will spread and possibly collapse. [6]

    Dough needs to rise sufficiently in order to make bread that’s light and airy rather than heavy and tough. A leavening agent is responsible for making dough rise by creating air pockets inside. For quick rising, you need the optimal environment for air pockets to form.

    Leavening Agents

    Using a leavening agent helps dough rise faster. While baking soda and baking powder are most often used in cakes and quick breads, yeast is the main leavening agent used in bread and pizza dough. All three cause chemical reactions to create gas that forms air pockets. Some yeast, commonly known as “rapid rise,” has been engineered to activate the chemical reaction faster. Some types of flour, like self-rising, already contain a leavening agent.

    Most leavening agents cause dough to rise gradually at room temperature. In moister dough, warmer ambient temperature speeds up the process. For faster rising, place dough over a pan of warm water in a warm oven; or microwave once or twice on low power for up to 25 seconds. However, keep dough below 250 degrees Fahrenheit, or else it will begin to cook.

    Faster Proofing

    Active dry yeast is a living organism that goes dormant during storage. To “proof” or activate it, add it to warm water, about 110 to 115 degrees Fahrenheit. Water above about 125 degrees Fahrenheit can kill the yeast, so test it first; it should feel hot but comfortable enough to put your finger in.

    To speed up the proofing, add a pinch of sugar to the warm water. The yeast feeds on the sugar and produces carbon dioxide gas more quickly. Vinegar creates a similar reaction. Add 3/4 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar for every 3 cups flour when mixing the dough.

    Let the dough rise to double size in a warm location, or cover and put the dough next to a cup of hot water in the microwave and heat on low for up to 3 minutes. Let the dough rest for 3 minutes, then heat again.

    Cover It Up

    As carbon dioxide forms, the dough expands. If the surface of the dough dries out, the crust that forms will keep it from rising as quickly. To let the dough rise freely, lightly coat the top with vegetable oil and cover with plastic wrap or a moist towel.

    The success of bread depends on many factors, most of them centering around the behavior of yeast, the living organism that makes it rise. This means that, on any given day, the recipe you’ve used for years may prove maddeningly balky and leave you with an inert lump of uncooperative dough. The obvious thing to do is throw it out and start over, but there are alternatives.

    Make a Sponge

    If you are not faced with a time constraint, use your batch of failed dough for the next day’s bread. Buy some fresh yeast and mix up a “sponge,” a small portion of dough, using about one-third of the flour and all the yeast called for in your original recipe. Let the sponge rise once on its own, then cut it into dozens of small pieces. Do the same with your original dough and knead them together for 10 minutes by hand or in your mixer. Let the dough rise overnight in your fridge and bake it the next day.

    Use Quick-Rise Yeast

    Quick-rise yeast also can be used to resuscitate a failed dough. Roll the dough into the thinnest rectangle you can manage on a lightly floured counter. Open an envelope of quick-rise yeast, also called fast-acting or bread machine yeast, and sprinkle it over the dough. Mist the dough lightly but evenly with a spray bottle and roll up the dough like a jelly roll. Knead the dough for at least 10 minutes by hand or in your mixer and leave it to rise. The quick-acting yeast should raise the dough adequately.

    Make Flatbreads

    Cut your dough into walnut-sized balls and roll them into 6-inch circles. Flour them well. To make pita-style breads, put a pizza stone or cast-iron pan in your oven and preheat it at its highest temperature. Once the oven is thoroughly heated, bake the breads one at a time for four to five minutes on each side. They will puff as the moisture in the dough turns to steam. Alternatively, brush the dough rounds with a beaten egg and sprinkle them with coarse salt and sesame seeds. Make crispbreads by baking them at 400 F until golden, approximately 10 minutes.

    Make Dessert

    Roll out your bread dough into the thinnest rectangle you can manage. Brush it well with melted butter and sprinkle it with sugar. Fold the dough in thirds, buttering and sugaring each side as you fold it in. Roll the dough out to its original size and butter and sugar it once again in the same way. Refrigerate the dough for 20 minutes to let the dough relax. Use the dough to line a sheet pan, and cover it from edge to edge with fresh-sliced fruit, such as plums or cherries. Sprinkle with sugar and bake at 375 F until the fruit is juicy and bubbly.

    How to fix dough that won't rise

    I’ve been grinding my own wheat and making my own bread for over 30 years now. And I absolutely LOVE this domestic chore. In fact, I don’t see it as a chore-it’s therapy. I know there are lots of Cook’n readers that understand what I’m saying and feel the same way.

    Avid bread-makers tend to gravitate to one another. We talk bread, trade secrets, and share recipes. Lately I’ve been hearing about struggles with rising. You know how frustrating that is. After all, making a loaf of bread is a commitment-a time-, energy-, and resource-commitment. Shoot, who wants to waste time, energy, and resources in the possibility of failure?

    So it’s with this question in mind that I thought we’d discuss a couple things:

    · the 5 typical reasons bread fails to rise (and what to do about them)

    · clever ways to use any dough that does fail to rise (it has a future!)

    How to fix dough that won't rise
    REASON 1: Old Dead Yeast
    . It’s true that dry, inactive yeast can live for years if kept at the right temperature. But every now and then you’ll buy some that’s been stored in a hot warehouse or submitted to fluctuating temperatures. So don’t get discouraged and automatically assume you did something wrong; it could be as simple as dead yeast. And going forward, always store freshly purchased yeast in an airtight container in the freezer.

    How to fix dough that won't rise
    REASON 2: Recipe Liquid Is Too Hot . Recipes calling for active dry yeast say to dissolve that yeast in warm water. Sometimes the recipe calls for the liquid to be heated with fat and then added to the yeast. Either way, if the liquid is too hot it will kill off yeast cells. Yeast is pretty picky. It doesn’t like it too cold and it doesn’t like it too hot. A kitchen thermometer is an accurate way to test water temperature and is worth the expense.

    How to fix dough that won't rise
    REASON 3: The Kitchen Is Too Cold . As mentioned above, yeast prefers a narrow temperature band, usually between 75°F and 90°F. There is a little wiggle room on either side, but not a lot. If dough sits too long in a cold room, yeast will eventually die. Some of you likely know what I mean-it’s been tough this winter to keep the kitchen at 75°F. I’ve been turning my oven on for a few minutes, then shutting it off and placing my bowl of dough in it to rise. The trick here, though, is to not forget to turn the oven off before adding the dough! (Ask me how I know this.) Another effective technique for dough-rising that some of my neighbors use is to place it on top of the refrigerator.

    How to fix dough that won't rise
    REASON 4: Not Enough Time To Rise . We live in an instant-results world-we want what we want NOW. This doesn’t work with rising dough, though. It simply takes time. Maybe even longer than you or the recipe-writer expect. A longer rise time could be due to what we just talked about-a room that’s not warm enough or that most of your yeast was dead. It could even be the kind of flour you’re using. Even sweet bread dough takes a long time to rise. If the dough hasn’t risen as much as you expect, just give it more time. Besides, a slower rise results in a more flavorful bread.

    How to fix dough that won't rise
    REASON 5: The Wrong Size Pan . Sometimes it isn’t that the dough didn’t rise, but that it doesn’t look like it rose. Usually this is because the pan is too large for the amount of dough. Here’s the rule of thumb for best pan sizes:

    ü A recipe with approx. 3 cups of flour is perfect for an 8-1/2 x 4-1/2 inch pan.

    ü A recipe with approx. 4 cups of flour is perfect for a 9 x 5 inch pan.

    ü A recipe with approx. 4-1/2 cups of flour is perfect for a 10 x 5 inch pan.

    Now the best part: Uses for that lump of dough that didn’t rise. Never throw it out! Instead:

    How to fix dough that won't rise
    Roll some of it very thin, sprinkle with herbs and/or coarse salt and bake homemade crackers.

    How to fix dough that won't rise
    Wrap strips around washed and buttered sticks and cook it over an open fire (still one of my favorite memories from childhood camping trips).

    How to fix dough that won't rise
    Stretch it thin and bake into flatbreads.

    How to fix dough that won't rise
    Stretch it thin, fry in a skillet, and spread with butter and honey, and sprinkle with cinnamon.

    How to fix dough that won't rise
    Bake it into loaves anyway, and when cooled, cube the bread, sprinkle the cubes with melted butter and herbs, and toast them. Voila, homemade salad croutons!

    How to fix dough that won't rise
    Bake it into loaves anyway, and when cooled, process the loaves into crumbs, toast the crumbs, bag them, and freeze them. You now have your own Panko bread crumbs for casseroles, etc.

    How to fix dough that won't rise
    OR, if you’re feeling generous, bake it into loaves anyway, and when cooled, crumble the loaves, bag the crumbs and freeze them. Then use those crumbs to feed the birds through the rest of the winter.

    Finally, take heart. Your dough may not have risen, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make bread. It just means you made a bread alternative and plan to try again. And keep trying-it’s worth the commitment!

    Monday, May 11, 2020

    How to Fix Dough That Won’t Rise

    You have it all planned: the dinner, the wine, that fresh-baked loaf of bread, along with those amazing barbecue ribs, straight from the chicken factory. Everything is coming together when you discover that your bread dough just isn’t rising. This is a common problem for many home bakers: you go to a lot of effort to make a nice shaped loaf, but your yeast appears to have gone on vacation. Fortunately, it’s a problem that’s relatively easy to diagnose and solve. Keep reading for instructions on how to get your yeast partying again.

    [ Edit ] Steps

    [ Edit ] Repairing The Dough

    1. Turn up the temperature. Yeast loves nothing better than a warm, moist climate to live its yeasty life to the fullest. [1] If you want your dough to rise, you need to give the yeast what it wants.

    How to fix dough that won't rise

    • Fill a baking pan with boiling water, and set it on the lowest rack in your oven. Place the container of dough on the middle rack, and close the oven door and allow the dough to rise.
    • Alternately, you can boil a cup of water in the microwave, then place the container of dough in the microwave with the water, and close the door. (Don’t microwave the dough!)
    • Some people turn on the oven, and place the dough on top of the stove, covered with a damp towel. The oven keeps the surface of the stove warm, and the damp towel provides the moisture.
  • Add more yeast. If warm and moist isn’t activating the yeast (you’ll know in less than an hour), you can try adding more yeast. [2]

    How to fix dough that won't rise

    • Open a new package of yeast, and mix teaspoon of yeast with 1 cup (240ml) of warm water (at about 110°F/43°C) and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Let this mixture proof for about 10 minutes, until it gets 1/2- to 1-inch of foam. If this fails, you will need to get fresh yeast and try again.
    • While proofing this yeast mixture, gently warm the flat dough to about 100°F (38°C) by placing the bowl in a warm place.
  • Blend in the starter. Adding more flour as necessary: a ratio of 60% flour to 40% liquid is usually a good ratio for bread doughs so add sufficient flour needed to balance. Knead the active yeast mixture into the dough, then let it rise in a warm, moist place.

    How to fix dough that won't rise

    • This can also be an indicator to see if your yeast is not active. This method makes the yeast very active so when it is added to the dough, it should rise perfectly. If your dough still fails to rise, it will indicate the yeast is not at fault: there is another problem.
    • You can also do this at the beginning of the recipe next time you make a different yeast dough.
  • Knead in more flour. Check whether the dough is sticky to the touch. If so, this is probably under-kneaded dough. Knead in additional flour until smooth and silky to the touch and dough no longer sticks to your hand. Let rest and rise in warm wet environment. Repeat if needed. You may need to let dough rest overnight before shaping and baking.

    Knead the dough properly. There’s an art to kneading. Too little, and you may not distribute the yeast through the dough. The dough will then be too weak to be able to rise. Too much kneading may make the dough so tough that it cannot expand. The dough should feel smooth and elastic, not tight like a rubber ball, or soft like biscuit dough.

    [ Edit ] Troubleshooting Dough Problems

    1. Find the problem. Consider several of the following points to do some preliminary diagnosis. It may be that a simple correction to the environment can fix the problem with no further effort.

    How to fix dough that won't rise

    • Check the dough and yeast type. Some sourdough cultures are very slow rising and may need several hours to rise. A
    • Make sure the yeast is still within its expiration date.Powdered yeast in packets last a long time, as does storing jars of dry yeast in the freezer. However, both fresh and dried yeast have a lifespan after which they will function weakly, or not at all. [3]
  • Check the environment. The ideal temperature is approx 100°F (38°C) and high humidity. Move too far out of that range, and your yeast will not be happy.

    How to fix dough that won't rise

    How to fix dough that won't rise

    • This can also happen if you have a dough that has too high a ratio of water to flour.
    • Some flours contain antifungal ingredients to prolong shelf life. As yeast is a proud member of the Fungi kingdom, this will most definitely inhibit growth.
    • Organic, additive-free unbleached white bread flour works best for a good loaf of white bread.
    • Heavier flours such as whole wheat, rye and other types of whole-grain flour will result in a heavy loaf that does not rise as much as fine white bread flour. [5]
  • Let the dough rest. Do not disturb the dough while it is rising, especially if it is a particularly wet dough.

    Use the proper container. The pan, banneton, or tray you use will make a difference. Too large, and the dough has nothing to push against when rising, so won’t rise upwards. Instead, it will spread and possibly collapse. [6]

    I was really bad at handling the dough! Try as I might, it always seemed to be sticky.

    It stuck to my surface, to my hands, to my fingers! It just stuck and there didn’t seem to be a solution in sight. If you are just beginning to work with dough, I can assure you that it can be quite challenging whether it be bread dough, pizza dough, or even cookie dough.

    A common sticky dough fix is to just add more flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Ah, if it were that easy! In the meantime, you may have ruined your dough with all that added flour.

    As I acquired more experience, it got easier. So, if you are in the beginning “sticky” stage, know that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

    Table of Contents

    My Dough is too Sticky

    Well, it should be a bit tacky to the touch. If your dough isn’t at all tacky, you’ve probably already added too much flour. Sticky dough is not necessarily a negative.

    Much will depend on the type of bread you hope to make. A stickier dough with higher water content can create a great loaf of bread, whereas a less sticky bread dough may end up having lots of bubbles in it.

    Why is my Dough Sticky?

    All dough is a bit sticky or tacky. Some dough may be tacky when you touch it while other doughs will literally seem glued to your fingers.

    If the dough contains a high amount of water and is what is called a “high hydration” dough, and perhaps has not developed much gluten, it will most likely be incredibly sticky. However, with a good amount of kneading the gluten will develop and your dough will become easier to handle.

    How Can I Make Dough Less Sticky?

    Here are some great tips for helping you to make less sticky dough or for handling sticky dough.

    • “Low hydration ” Dough. If you’re at the beginning f your dough baking adventure, start with low hydration. This will automatically make the dough less sticky and easier for you to knead. A beginning low hydration dough shouldn’t have more than approximately 60% of water in its content. This will allow you to acquire more experience kneading and shaping before moving onto the stickier dough. As you feel more comfortable, you can increase the water content.
    • A little bit of flour. You can add a little bit of flour to help you shape the dough or to move it, but flour should not be added when kneading just because a dough feels sticky. This will most probably dry out your dough, and the end result won’t be what you hoped for. While you knead gluten will develop, helping the dough to leave the surface.
    • Dough Scrapers. Bakers swear by dough scrapers in both metal, or flexible plastic. Depending on what you want to do you may choose to use one or the other. Both are great for cutting dough or shaping it. A plastic dough scraper will be more appropriate for scraping the bowl you mix your dough in or to help you remove the dough from the bowl. A metal scraper that will be flat is better for cutting the dough or scraping down the surface where you are kneading.
    • Practice makes perfect. The more you bake, the better you’ll be at handling different types of dough, and the more you can watch others that have worked with dough for years, you’ll be able to pick up some tips. One often-cited kneading technique is the method that requires you to slap and then fold your dough. This is an often-used method for sticky wet doughs.
    • A little bit of oil. When kneading your dough on a surface or in a bowl, a very light layer of oil will help you to knead it and it will stick less to the surface. Eventually, that little bit will be kneaded into your dough, but it will help you begin the kneading process. Oil is also rubbed onto a bowl surface when the dough is left to rise. This will help you remove the dough from the bowl when you are ready to work it.
    • A little bit of water. You can try dipping your hands in water before picking up the dough. This will also help if the dough is sticking to your hands.

    Sticky Pizza Dough

    While pizza dough may seem that it should be easier, it isn’t. When the pizza dough is sticky, again it’s due to high water content and little gluten development. Keep on needing it for approximately ten minutes, and the gluten will develop making it easier to deal with.

    If it continues to be sticky, you can knead in tiny amounts of flour but should do so only after you have kneaded. If the gluten does not develop, your pizza dough may not stretch sufficiently or rise.

    If you add in a tablespoon or two of flour you will need to knead for at least another five minutes because the gluten must be developed with the newly added flour.

    Another way to assist in the development of gluten is to allow your pizza dough to sit inside your refrigerator overnight. It will also be easier to handle. Before stretching your pizza dough, coat it with flour so your hands don’t stick to it and tear the dough.

    Sticky Cookie Dough

    Usually, sticky cookie dough is the result of the temperature of the dough. Remember that when you knead the dough, your body temperature will transfer heat to the dough.

    To avoid this, especially when butter and eggs are in the dough recipe, keep your cookie dough in your refrigerator for a while to make sure that the dough cools down. You can also place the dough in parchment paper before placing it in the fridge. In this way, it will be easier for you to remove it when you prepare to bake your cookies.

    Conclusion

    Kneading your own dough can be utterly comforting, and while making your own bread, pizza or cookie dough is not quick, it is a labor of love.

    Hi, there. So I’ve just spent the past few weeks making my first successful (I think) sourdough starter. When I feed it it gets bubbly and smells like sourdough, and I’ve even made a couple loaves and they taste awesome.

    My problem is, my dough never rises very much, and certainly doesn’t double in size. I’ve made yeast bread before so I know what to look for in terms of rising, and my sourdough seems to stay in a dense little lump, even in the hot weather or when I leave it in a closed/warmed oven to rise. The result is tasty but very dense and not fluffy or porous at all.

    Any suggestions on what might be going wrong? My process has been to take my starter out of the fridge, feed it again and let it proof overnight, and then make the dough in the morning. Am I letting it sit too long before making my dough? Am I missing a crucial window when I should be forming the dough and/or baking it?

    Replies

    ^ Yup, what LD said PLUS,

    How do you develop your dough? What’s your kneading technique?

    p.s. Your site is so fascinating! One day, I must pick up knitting again.

    Usually I spend about five minutes playing wth the dough until all the flour is incorporated smoothly, including squeezing/pressing against the counter/kneading with my fist. Then for about five minutes I try to emulate a technique I saw in a class once where I press the dough flat, fold it over onto itself, press it down again. Could it be the kneading that’s preventing the rising?

    i wouldn’t be surprised actually, because i notice with my yeast breads too that although they rise, they don’t rise as much as I would expect, especially if I punch it down after the first 2 hours–sometimes I skip this step altogether because it makes my loaves small and wimpy!)

    Is there a better technique, or a rule of thumb to know if I’ve kneaded it enough or correctly?

    Thanks!
    (And thanks for the comment about the store! If you’re ever in Portland and find yourself hankering for some yarn you should definitely come check it out :))

    10 mins will work only if it’s intensive mixing using a machine. I’d like to point you to Dom’s remarks about the intial stages of dough-handling. Some of us not only knead (a forceful action of digging the heel of our hand and folding over), we also do stretch and folds (something like what you described. a gentler action). Check out this tutorial and I’m sure your breads will improve considerably!

    TP
    p.s. Mail order is more likely if I do find my needles.

    After reading your first post I think that you need to make sure your starter is working right also. When you make up your preferment does it double in volume? Try making your preferment in a clear container so you can see if the bubbles are forming. Here is what mine looks like.

    Hmm, now I’m beginning to think that it might be my starter. I just tried a loaf this morning and kneaded it as per the demo video, and that certainly made the dough taste better and a little fluffier after it was baked, but still not much rising happening. The final loaf is barely any bigger than when I finished kneading it.

    I didn’t get a chance to put the starter in a glass container like you suggested, but I do notice that even though there are bubbles in the surface, they don’t seem as big as the ones in your picture, and the starter itself doesn’t seem to double in volume like it’s supposed to. How can I revitalize my starter aside from feeding it?

    How to fix dough that won't rise

    Mixing up a pizza dough and finding it hasn’t risen is a confusing moment that every baker has come across. I get the question in comments regularly on this blog, and it can usually be answered by one of these simple reasons.

    Why didn’t my pizza dough rise?

    • Yeast was dead to begin with
    • You killed the yeast from too much heat
    • You didn’t activate your yeast properly
    • Your dough temperature was too low
    • You didn’t give it enough time
    • You killed or slowed down the yeast with salt

    I’ll give some more information and fixes for each problem. If you are looking for a good pizza dough recipe to follow then check out my best pizza dough recipe.

    Yeast Was Dead To Begin With

    The first place to check with a dough that doesn’t rise, is the quality of your yeast. If the yeast is past it’s use-by date then you should replace it. Also, if you have opened the yeast and kept it for several months then you are running the risk of it being dead or damaged.

    Yeast has a shelf life which is usually stated on the packet or container. Dried yeast is still active, but it is just so dehydrated that it is very inactive – so even this will die over time.

    You can check if yeast is alive by mixing a teaspoon of yeast in a small bowl of water and a teaspoon of sugar. If the yeast bubbles after 10 minutes or so then you know it is alive.

    Keep yeast alive longer

    By putting the opened yeast in the fridge you will extend the shelf life as colder temperatures slow down yeast. It should last 4 months in the fridge, and 6 months in the freezer. It can of course last much longer, but it’s best to keep your yeast in date.

    You Killed The Yeast From Too Much Heat

    If you use water that is too hot, then you can kill the yeast. Many recipes recommend using warm water to speed up yeast activity. Remember that warm water isn’t needed to get yeast started, it will activate with cool water from the tap too. But warm water will speed the activity if you want the dough to ferment faster.

    Water that is over 120F/50C will start to kill yeast cells. At a temperature of 140F/60C the yeast will completely die. The ideal temperature is around 95F/35C. If you don’t have a thermometer to accurately measure the temperature, then this temperature feels warm but not hot to the touch on your skin.

    On a similar note, make sure the environment in which you proof the dough is correct. No room temperature will be hot enough to kill yeast, but don’t try and speed things up by putting the dough in the oven.

    You Didn’t Activate Your Yeast

    Of all the commercial yeast varieties, there is active dry, instant and fresh yeast. Active dry is probably the most common. It is larger granules and needs to be activated by being dissolved in water first. If this didn’t happen, then the yeast might not have chance to activate, especially if your dough is lacking water.

    Instant yeast is different because it is smaller granules which are designed to dissolve fast. It can be mixed straight into the dry ingredients with no problems. A type of instant yeast is “rapid rise” and this speeds things up even more.

    I use instant yeast in my dough as it’s very easy to use. I still dissolve the yeast into the water, along with the salt and then add the flour. This keeps things consistent every time.

    Fresh yeast can be used at a ratio of 3x the weight of dry yeast. I don’t tend to use fresh yeast because its shelf life is much shorter, and it’s harder to get hold of.

    Your Dough Temperature Was Too Low

    Yeast activity is affected heavily from the temperature of the dough. Higher temperature speed things up, and lower temperatures slow things down greatly.

    Two things which will affect the dough temperature is the temperature of the ingredients used, mostly the water, and the temperature of the surrounding environment.

    Firstly the water temperature used in the recipe should be around 95F/35C as mentioned already. Secondly the room temperature is important. It should be a normal room temperature around 70F/21C to see a normal rise of dough. If your room is colder than this, then expect to wait longer to rise. It will get there, it just needs more time.

    Some recipes recommend putting the dough in a warm spot. While you can do this, it isn’t needed – and I don’t recommend it. The extra time to rise gives the dough more time to ferment and build better flavor and texture. Speeding things up actually makes a worse pizza.

    If you want to be super accurate with your dough temperature you can use a probe thermometer if you have one. The target temperature should be around 80F/27C if you mixed with water that was 95F/35C.

    You Didn’t Give It Enough Time

    This is pretty relative to the other factors in this article such as heat. If you have colder dough, or saltier dough then things will be slowed down. But that doesn’t mean things won’t get there.

    Yeast multiplies as it eats so you’ll notice things happen exponentially. Once the yeast is kicked off and gets going, you notice a big spike in activity. You might have waited some time and seen nothing, but check back in a relatively short amount of time and the dough might have doubled unexpectely.

    So if the dough hasn’t risen yet after the recommended time, give it another 30-60 minutes and return. If you see no movement after that, then the yeast might be dead.

    You Killed Or Slowed Down The Yeast With Salt

    Salt causes yeast to slow down its fermentation activity by sucking out water through osmosis. If you have the yeast in direct contact with salt for too long (most people claim 5 minutes or so), then you will actually kill the yeast.

    The quantity of salt in the dough will affect how much it rises. Some people use this as a tool to slow down fermentation to allow the dough to be kept at room temperature for longer without “blowing out”. It is possible that if you accidently added a large amount of salt to your dough, then this could have stopped it from rising as you would have expected.

    The usual percentage of salt in a recipe would be around 2-3%. For a recipe that has 500g flour, that would amount to 1.5g salt. Check my recipe for an example pizza dough recipe.

    Can I Still Use The Dough?

    You can still use the pizza dough to make thin crust pizza. It won’t rise so the crust will be small, and because no yeast fermentation has occurred, the dough will lack in flavors developed from this process.

    Another option is to make flat breads or tortillas. You can take normal dough balls, roll them out and bake for the flat breads. Or take golf ball sized dough balls, roll them thinly and fry in a hot pan for tortillas.

    I wouldn’t recommend trying to save the dough, because trying to mix water into an already formed dough does not work out well.

    Conclusion: Ideal Conditions For Yeast

    So in summary, the ideal conditions for yeast are to use warm but not hot water (around 95F/35C). For active dry yeast, you need to activate the yeast first in water before adding flour. Mix and knead the dough and then leave it at room temperature. As yeast likes humid environments, the best practice is to cover it with a damp cloth, but an airtight lid works fine too. Sometimes the dough just needs a little longer. I recommend doing a long fermentation to improve the flavor of the dough.